I am a… Leading design engineer
Graduate Aaron Hunt enjoys a rewarding and challenging career as a leading design engineer with the global firm JCB.
Aaron graduated in 2010 with MEng Off Road Vehicle Design and some great practical experience following a 15-month work placement with JCB, in which he gained hands-on experience in four different roles. He believes this combination of theory and applied knowledge that Harper Adams students develop through the sandwich structure of degree courses is invaluable. “Prospective employers put a great deal of value in someone that already has experience and knowledge gained from working in industry. Placement gave me a very wide range of experience which has enabled me to appreciate the requirements of different roles and sites as well as let me decide which areas I wanted to progress my career in.”
The 26-year-old, originally from East Sussex, is now Lead Engineer of Current Product Support with the global engineering firm. “My team and I have to find engineering solutions on the tractors we currently produce that are robust and cost effective. I deal with a very broad range of issues and work with a huge variety of companies and departments in order to try and find the best solutions. My favourite part of the job is the sheer variety of the work as well as being able to see my designs being made into reality.
“My employers were looking for someone with a combination of theoretical and practical experience as well as an interest in agriculture as this is the main market for our products. Harper Adams graduates are generally of a high quality with a good balance of skills and the right attitude.”
Confident in his appeal to employers, Aaron took the time to fulfil one of his ambitions before embarking on his career. “Immediately after graduation I worked for a few months on a dairy to save some money before travelling around SE Asia, New Zealand and South America for about eight months. I had always intended to take a gap year and am really glad I took that opportunity before starting my career.
Looking back, Aaron says he chose to study at Harper Adams because of the uniqueness of the course. “It was the only university to have a course specifically for off road vehicle engineering. It was a lot more applied than most engineering courses, which made it a lot more interesting. Like most Harper Adams students I enjoy using my hands and putting theory into practice.
“Engineering students are treated as professional engineers from day one, and this includes working on real world projects. “One of the best assignments was a group project to carry out a feasibility study on the use of a hybrid driveline in a tractor working with both AGCO and Quinetiq,” Aaron remembers. “It was really interesting because it is still quite a new area in the off-highway industry and it was clear when we presented our findings at the end they were genuinely interested in what we had found. My dissertation was for a defence company that were working on a prototype 6x6 armoured vehicle and involved a study into the best control method for the pneumatic suspension system. Unfortunately there was only one prototype vehicle, which meant it was mostly theory as opposed to a design and build project, but I found it was a good challenge and I used some vehicle simulation software to create a computer model of the complete vehicle system.
“The university’s facilities are also unique,” adds Aaron. “You won’t find another off road vehicle design course in the UK or another university with a soil hall and off road course. It will be even better now the new Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre is built.”
And finally, would Aaron recommend Harper Adams to future students? “If you want a friendly university in the countryside where you can get a well-regarded qualification and have an awesome time doing it then it’s a no-brainer!”